It’s a funny thing about life, once you begin to take note of the things you are grateful for, you begin to lose sight of the things that you lack.
I’ve found the land of lost dreams — it’s the wicker basket in the cabinet under my bathroom sink. In a winter cleaning frenzy, I finally cleared out what I’d been tossing into it over the past few years. Hundreds of dollars of skin and hair products. Impulse buys that promised a cascading mane of shiny hair and smooth, clear skin the likes of which I haven’t seen in a few decades. And none of them delivered, which is why they ended up junked under a sink in the dark for years.
The novelist Ann Patchett writes of finding a similar basket of lotions in “My Year of No Shopping.” She gave up all purchases for a year, save for food and books. No new clothes, no impulse buys, no gifts other than books. She explains, “The unspoken question of shopping is ‘What do I need?’ What I needed was less.”
Every time Patchett thought she would need to break down and buy something, like when she ran out of skin lotion, she would discover a cache of it somewhere (like under the bathroom sink). And most of her needs turned out to be fleeting wants.
I visited a school last fall and asked the school principal what big new thing the community was working on or talking about. She replied, “I’m trying not to push something new this year. Every year there’s a new initiative, a new focus, pressure to keep up with the latest and greatest techniques and resources. This year I said, ‘What’s the most important thing?’ Of course it’s to make sure kids have time to read and write. And that parents understand the importance of ‘just’ reading and writing, in school and at home. That’s all. That’s enough. That’s everything.”
If your students have learned that every day is better with some reading and writing, and it’s a habit they can’t live without, that’s enough. They can live off that bounty you’ve given them for years.
This week we look at creative ways to teach grammar and editing skills. Plus more as always — enjoy!
Founder, Choice Literacy
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The “daily edit” is a common routine in many classrooms. Shari Frost explains why this may not be an effective way to teach conventions, and offers some alternatives:
Sentence combining is an alternative to traditional drill and kill grammar instruction. Heather Rader describes how it is used at different grade levels:
Writers and editors have a love/hate relationship with the Oxford comma (otherwise known as the serial comma). If you’ve ever wondered why it matters at all, you may enjoy tale of a Maine dairy company lost a $5 million lawsuit for lack of an Oxford comma:
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Bitsy Parks realizes charts will help her first graders craft sentences. She shares how her sentence writing charts have changed over time:
Is your problem writers whose sentences never seem to end? Tara Barnett and Kate Mills have a strategy for grappling with run-on sentences:
Gretchen Schroeder shares a quick exercise she’s developed for her high school students to hone grammar and editing skills using online video resources and individual Chromebooks:
Melanie Meehan uses revision strips to move young writers beyond “I’m done!” and into expanding and editing their writing:
In an encore video, Melanie Meehan coaches a fourth-grade teacher who is trying to improve his grammar instruction:
That’s all for this week!